HomeTactical & SurvivalFord’s ‘Ultimate’ Off-Road Pickup: 2024 F-150 Raptor R Review

Ford’s ‘Ultimate’ Off-Road Pickup: 2024 F-150 Raptor R Review

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If you’re looking for a full-sized pickup, Ford has a model for virtually every taste and budget, especially for those looking to head off-road. But, if you’re looking for something rugged enough to handle anything you throw at it — from serious trail crawling to desert racing and even the drag strip — you’ll want to focus on what the automaker bills as the “ultimate” package, the 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R.

As if the “base” Raptor wasn’t tough already, this beast adds features like a four-stage active exhaust system and Fox Live Valve dampers. It draws power from the “Predator” V-8 lifted out of the Mustang Shelby GT500. And while it might be hard to imagine needing any more power than the outgoing Raptor R delivered, the 2024 model ups the ante with 20 more ponies, bringing the total to 720 horsepower.

Add it up and, after spending a day blasting through California’s demanding Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Park, I realized Carl Widmann, Ford’s head of performance operations, wasn’t just spouting marketing speak as he said, “When customers experience Raptor R in the desert and beyond, it will make the hairs on the back of their necks stand up — and they’ll love every second of it.”

In short: Ford offers a broad array of F-150 variants, several of them designed for off-roading. None takes things to extremes like the Raptor R. For 2024, this “ultimate” model gains more power and more features that position it to dominate key competitors like the Ram 1500 TRX and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Bison.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R

  • Engine
    Supercharged 5.2-liter V-8
  • HP/Torque
    720/640
  • Transmission
    10-speed automatic
  • Cargo
    1,400 lbs
  • Towing
    8,700 lbs
  • MSRP
    $111,500+

  • Updated design

  • Even more power

  • Impressive shocks/suspension

  • Super rugged


  • Beyond all but the most lavish budgets

  • Sucks fuel by the barrel

  • Not the best choice for a daily driver

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review

If you’re looking to test the mettle of something that claims to have serious off-road capabilities, there are few places as unforgiving as the rugged badlands a couple of hours up into the hills east of Palm Springs, Calif. The Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park serves up any terrain you might desire, from Baja-style desert tracks to trails so rock-strewn you’ll have a challenge just figuring out where to plant a tire.

An appropriate place, it turned out, to take the updated 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R. Combining the new truck and the terrain I was about to face, I knew I was in for what the folks on the automaker’s performance truck operations described as “an adrenaline-fueled thrill-ride.”

The good news is that the updated Raptor R managed to make things look and feel simple enough that even a moderately experienced driver could feel like a pro. Yet, it offered enough features and capabilities to beguile even the most experienced pro.

Raptor vs. Raptor R

While technically a mid-cycle update, the new Raptor R has had enough changes to warrant a closer look — and drive — even for owners of the outgoing model. But first, here is a quick primer on the differences between Raptor and Raptor R.

It’s been 14 years since Ford first introduced the Raptor-badged F-150. Back then, buyers had a choice of two powertrains, a 5.4L V-8 making 310 horsepower and a 6.2L V-8 bumping that up to 411 horsepower. Effectively, that set the stage for the evolution into two different trim levels.

Today, the differences are substantial. Don’t be fooled. The base Raptor is an impressive beast, powered by a 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 making 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to pull a 1,400-pound payload and tow up to 8,200 pounds. 

As with its big brother, the beast is anxious to go off-road, and it’s plenty capable, with power delivered through a two-speed transfer case to all four wheels. But add that little letter, “R,” and you take things to a new level.

Big Brother

The prior model saw Ford finally challenge all comers. To start with, it gave the Raptor R that Predator V-8 borrowed from the Mustang Shelby GT500. It wasn’t a pure, one-to-one swap, of course. In the Raptor R, the engine was customized for off-road situations, with revised pulleys, upgraded exhaust manifolds, a deeper oil pan, and enhanced cooling.

A wider air intake increased airflow volume by 66%, meanwhile. Improved filtration also kept the engine from sucking up dust. There’s also a modified dual exhaust system with a true pass-through muffler and active valving to control the exhaust note. 

It came oh so close to going tire-to-tire with Ram’s brawny TRX making 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet. For 2024, however, the Ford F-150 Raptor R doesn’t have any reason to apologize, the pony count bumped to 720 — though it’s still 10 pound-fee short of its rival, at 640.

As with its engine, the Raptor R’s 10-speed gearbox has been beefed up substantially to handle the tougher environment it faces. One nice detail: extra-long magnesium paddle shifters that make it easy to operate, even when bouncing down a Baja course at speed.  Power is then fed to all four wheels through a beefed-up two-speed transfer case.

Making It Child’s Play

One of the Raptor R’s best features is its extensive selection of driver modes, which optimize the truck for whatever you’ll throw at it. You can instantly adjust virtually all systems — from engine and transmission mapping to suspension settings, and even the way you’ll see what’s on the truck’s digital gauge, infotainment, and HUD displays.

There are seven choices here, including a Baja setting and, if you prefer, you can mix and match those settings, as it were, accessing the customizable results using an “R” mode button on the steering wheel.

From a technology standpoint, however, it doesn’t stop there. One feature, called Trail Turn, uses the inside brake to help the truck pirouette around a tight corner almost as if you were driving Ford’s baby pickup, the Maverick.

And One-Pedal Mode allows you to accelerate and decelerate simply by modulating the throttle. While that’s a common feature on modern EVs, it’s a unique offering on a gas-powered vehicle.

There are, of course, the requisite features that let you do things like set a fixed speed to creep up or down a hill, much like an off-road cruise control.

Shocking

Virtually every detail of the truck has been tuned to withstand the toughest of off-road conditions. And there are welcome updates for 2024. The suspension travel, for one thing, is now 13.5 inches up front and 14 in the rear. Both increased by 0.5 inches for 2024. 

One of the most important features is the Raptor R’s Fox Dual Live Valve shocks. While they were available on the outgoing Raptor R, they’ve also been upgraded for 2024 to offer position-sensitive compression control.

In other words, they’ll respond better under a broader range of conditions, and each damper can be in a different setting at any particular moment. That’s helpful in any off-road driving situation, but especially so when facing the daunting challenges that the 2024 F-150 Raptor R will face in Baja-style racing, which is its primary raison d’être.

Surprisingly, the Fox technology helped smooth out the truck’s ride once back on pavement — even more shocking considering we were driving on 37-inch off-road tires. While it’s not likely to be a first choice as a daily driver, owners could substitute the new Raptor R for their poser CUV, if they wish and not find the truck bouncing the fillings out of their teeth.

2024 Raptor R Driving Impressions

This wasn’t my first time at Johnson Valley OHV, so I had the opportunity to compare and contrast the 2024 Raptor R with both the outgoing model and a variety of competitors, such as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Bison.

This time around, Ford made sure I experienced pretty much any and everything the park could offer. This included a jump that lofted me into the air at 65 mph for almost 50 feet. Touchdown was uncannily smooth and confidence-inspiring.

That’s a phrase I could use to describe almost everything I experienced in Johnson Valley, thanks, in particular, to the truck’s enormous power — and its grippy rubber.

On previous visits, I only stared up at steep mountains of sand, wondering what it would be like to charge up toward the summit. Encouraged by the Ford team, I gave it a go this trip, kicking up huge roostertails of sand in my wake.

Size Matters

The truck was more than able to handle some mid-level rock crawling and likely could have surmounted pretty much everything I experienced driving out there in a Bronco Raptor R a couple of years ago.

The biggest challenge that an owner will have to accommodate, of course, is the Raptor’s big footprint. At 232.6 inches, nose-to-tail, with a 145.4-inch wheelbase, there are simply some places you can’t take a truck this size — even if you activated Trail Control. The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R has a width of 87.0 inches and a height of 80.6 inches.

Another critical dimension is 13.1 inches of ground clearance. That came into play as I faced down the last challenge of my visit: some Baja-style racing on and around Johnson Valley’s dry lake bed. As a measure of how tough this can be, realize that the park is home to the King of the Hammers race.

Charging down the deeply rutted trail, my foot pressing the throttle ever closer to the floorboards was an exercise in abandon. The shifting sand and unexpected obstacles threatened at any moment to spin me off into the scrubby brush and trees. My kidneys, after the first two laps, began to scream for a rest stop and I began hoping I wouldn’t require an emergency visit to the dentist.

Yet, as I found making repeated jumps in the Raptor R, I also felt inspired to press the throttle just a little bit harder, brake a bit later, and go into each corner a bit faster — finally drifting through the coned-out course on the lake bed.

Raptor R Design

As you’d expect of a truck like the 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R, the designers weren’t told to deliver a truck that would blend into a crowd.

It stands higher than a conventional version of the pickup. It boasts a functional power bulge on the hood that makes it easier to feed air into the engine compartment for cooling. Graphics above the wheel lip molding, along the box side, and on the hood and fenders make sure everyone knows exactly what they’re looking at.

There’s also a modular front bumper that can easily be outfitted with a winch or other accessories.

’24 Raptor R Interior

Inside, the truck doesn’t stray far from the conventional F-150, albeit one of the more up-market trims. That includes features like the shifter that can fold into the center console when parked.

The truck also gets twin 12-inch screens, one for the gauge cluster, the other a touchscreen serving infotainment duties. A new head-up display is a welcome edition. Like the twin screens, its display is revised each time you adjust the drive mode settings.

The new Raptor R has the latest Sync 4 infotainment technology and has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. It also offers a Wi-Fi hotspot that can handle up to 10 devices, and you can order an 18-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system.

Another useful feature: the optional 2.0kW mobile generator the truck can be equipped with. It allows you to have plenty of juice for a camp or worksite.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review Wrap-Up

For those looking to take their off-road experiences to the extreme, especially if that includes serious Baja-style adventures, the newly updated, 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R stands out, even when compared to Ram’s ominous TRX and Chevy’s Bison. 

There are some practical matters to consider, starting with its base price of $111,500 — before factoring in delivery fees — and the big fuel bills you can expect, considering that, in real-world situations, you’ll likely get somewhere around 10 to 11 mpg.

But, for those with deep enough pockets and the desire to let no obstacles stand in their way, the ultimate F-150 is going to be hard to resist.



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